What are the other names for this test?
Alanine aminotransferase (ALT), Serum Glutamic-Pyruvic Transaminase (SGPT), GPT
What is an ALT test?
ALT is also known as Alanine Aminotransferase. It is one of the types of enzymes mostly present in high concentrations in your liver. Few ALT amounts may also be available in other body parts. Enzymes are proteins that help to support functions in the body. This test helps to determine ALT levels in your blood. ALT may enter your blood vessel when damage happens in your liver cells. High ALT levels may show a liver injury or disease. The presence of some form of liver disease may lead to high ALT levels before the appearance of symptoms of any disease. This test is significant for liver problems.
What is the purpose of this test?
An ALT blood test may be conducted alone, but mostly this test often performs with other liver enzymes included in the comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) or liver panel. An ALT test may help your provider to:
- Determine the current health conditions of the liver.
- Diagnose liver problems after the confirmation of symptoms.
- Screen to identify liver problems before the development of symptoms of liver disease. ALT levels may increase in the blood before the beginning of symptoms.
- Monitor how well the treatment is going for liver disease if you had it in the recent past. ALT and liver enzymes may also monitor medication side effects that affect your liver function.
When do I need to take this test?
Your healthcare provider may recommend an ALT test if you experience symptoms of liver disease.
Symptoms of liver disease
- Urine appears to be dark colored
- Nausea and vomiting
- Light or clay-colored stool
- Belly pain or swelling
- Loss of weight
- Tiredness or Fatigue
- Skin or eyes color turns yellow (jaundice)
- Increased Itching
- Pain or swelling in your ankles
Your healthcare provider may also order this test if you are at a risk factor for developing liver disease, including
- Excess use of alcohol
- Being overweight
- Specific medication side-effects.
- Cirrhosis - a condition of long-term liver disease that may happen due to several problems.
- Family history of liver problems
When you do not experience these risk factors, you may need this test as a routine checkup for your health. You may require a follow-up ALT test if you receive an abnormal test result. When you are already diagnosed with liver disease in the recent past, your provider may ask to repeat an ALT blood test to know the current conditions and treatment of the disease. See your ALT levels and check if you have any above symptoms present in your body.
What is the procedure for this test?
You can schedule an online order for an ALT test and visit the laboratory after you receive the date and time for this test. The simple steps for this test are as follows:
- Your provider will ask you to stay relaxed and calm before the test.
- Take a seat in front of your provider and remove your cloth from one of the arms.
- A small needle will inject into the vein in your arm.
- Your blood sample will collect in a test tube
- A little discomfort or pain may happen during the test or at the time of injection of the needle.
- Regular activities may resume after the test.
- This test will finish within five minutes.
How do I need to prepare for this test?
An ALT test does not require any specific preparation. You may eat or drink if you have only this test. But when your provider asks for other blood tests, you may need to fast for at least several hours. You can inform your provider about medicines, supplements, or vitamins you use. It is better to take guidance from a healthcare provider about which medicine or vitamins you may need to stop before the test. Do not avoid your medication without the prescription of your doctor.
Are there any risks involved in this test?
An ALT test contains low risks when you give a blood sample to your provider. Vein differs from person to person. Some people or children may have difficulty providing a blood sample compared to others. You may experience low risks when the needle injects into your vein, include
- Extreme Bleeding
- Slight pain
- Hematoma (Deposition of blood under the skin)
What do the test results indicate?
The recommended range for an ALT is below 40 international units per liter (IU/L). ALT test results depend on many factors, such as age, gender, and medical history. The test results may also slightly differ among laboratories. It is because each lab may use different methods for examination. You may talk to your provider about your test result.
High ALT levels than 1000 IU/L in the blood may indicate the following conditions:
- Decreased rate of blood flow in your liver
- Intermediate viral hepatitis
- Injuries due to toxins or illegal drugs
Your healthcare provider may compare your ALT test result with other liver enzymes, such as ALT. The ratio of AST to ALT gives information about your liver conditions. ALT levels generally are higher compared to AST levels. AST levels may be higher in these specific cases, such as hepatitis from the use of alcohol and cirrhosis (a condition of long-term liver disease).
Many other conditions may also increase your enzyme levels other than liver disease, including
- Celiac disease (a severe autoimmune disease)
- Adrenal gland disorder
- Muscle disease
- Gallstones (small stones that develop in your gallbladder)
- Thyroid problems
What factors may affect the test results?
If your ALT test shows abnormal results, this does not always indicate a medical problem. Test results may change if you use alcohol. Some factors that may affect your test results are:
- Medicines: Specific medications may alter your ALT levels.
- Age: ALT levels decrease with increasing age.
- Sex: Males contain high ALT levels compared to women.
- Menstruation: ALT levels may rise or fall during the menstrual cycle.
- Exercise: Extreme or severe exercises may temporarily increase your ALT levels.
What additional tests do I need along with this test?
You may need also need to order other tests to check your liver health, including